Sharpshooter Emma Risch set to sign with Notre Dame WBB; with more to come?
Emma Risch’s revised plan was to sign her National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning, making her nearly one-year verbal commitment to the Notre Dame women’s basketball program finally official, though doing so in relative solitude.
A signing ceremony at Palm Bay Magnet High School in Melbourne, Fla., has been postponed until Monday, with Tropical Storm Nicole bearing down on Florida’s mid-Atlantic coast and expected to upgrade to a Category I hurricane when it makes landfall sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
“No school for the rest of the week,” said the 6-foot-2, five-star guard and one of the top 3-point shooters in her class nationally.
No preseason game Wednesday night, either, to start her senior season.
Beyond hoping for minimal storm damage, the one thing Risch would covet by the time she re-enacts her letter-signing early next week?
Future Irish teammates.
So would Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey.
Risch, the nation’s No. 20 player in the 2023 class, per ESPNw, is a given. Two uncommitted possibilities still in play for the Irish are point guard Hannah Hidalgo and forward Cassandre Prosper, the No. 5 and No. 16 prospects in the class, respectively.
The early signing period for women’s basketball runs through next Wednesday, Nov. 16. Prosper on Wednesday announced on her Instagram page that she'll be revealing her college choice on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. Hildalgo's father and high school coach, Orlando Hidalgo, told Inside ND Sports that Hannah will likely announce her decision on the signing window's final day.
Hidalgo is a 5-foot-7 point guard from Merchantville, N.J. In three seasons at Paul VI High School in Haddonfield, N.J., Hidalgo has averaged 21.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 5.4 steals per game.
In July, she helped lead Team USA to a 7-0 record and a gold medal in the 2022 U17 FIBA World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary. Ivey and associate head coach Carol Owens made the trip to Eastern Europe to see and be seen by Hidalgo and a handful of other Irish recruiting targets.
What they witnessed was Hidalgo averaging 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.5 steals against the best competition in the world in her age group.
She took an official visit to ND the weekend of Sept. 10. In addition to Notre Dame, Hidalgo named UCF, Duke, Ohio State, Michigan and Stanford as finalists.
Prosper, with forward size and guard skills, is Canada’s premier player in the ‘23 class. She calls Rosemere, Quebec, home but attends school at Cairine Wilson Secondary School in Orleans, Ontario — near Ottawa.
Ivey flew to Canada to see Prosper play last month, as the Canadian high school basketball season had already started.
After Palm Bay’s postponed preseason game gets played — perhaps this weekend — Risch’s senior season gets officially underway next Wednesday.
As a junior, Risch averaged 20.5 points per game, 6.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.1 steals. She shot 45% from 3-point range, and will eventually slide into the role currently held by grad senior Dara Mabrey at Notre Dame, but she offers more size and a more well-rounded skill set.
The 5-7 Mabrey and center Lauren Ebo are the only two players on the Irish roster with expiring eligibility after this season.
“I feel like my game off the dribble has gotten better,” said Risch, who received a sizable ratings bump last month. “Obviously, my shot is what it is. I’m an elite shooter. But I would say one of the main parts is just being able to get to the basket a little more and create for myself.”
Risch got to take in a couple of Notre Dame women’s basketball practices this past weekend when she took her official visit to ND.
She also got to experience what field storming was like first-hand after the Notre Dame football team ambushed No. 4 Clemson, 35-14, Saturday night at sold-out Notre Dame Stadium.
“We kind of had to,” Risch said of the rush to the field, “because we were sitting in a spot in the front row right in front of the goalpost. And if we didn’t, we probably would have gotten run over.
“Once I got on the field, I just kind of had to go with the flow. I was with the girls (the ND players). We were just kind of just getting bumped back and forth by everybody trying to run around and get to the (football) players and stuff. Just taking video and everything, being with the players, stuff like that. It was pretty cool.”
The coolest part was looking back up into the stands and watching her father, Chad Risch, rescuing a couple of young women who were getting trampled.
“They were like screaming for their lives, and my dad was able to help them from getting stepped on and pulled them away,” she said. “I really think he saved their lives. He’s awesome.”
Back home in Florida Monday night, Risch watched on TV as the ninth-ranked Irish opened their season with an 84-44 romp over Northern Illinois.
“It made me think about the visit again, and how it was one of the best experiences, like probably the best we could have asked for,” Risch said. “Just every time I go up to Notre Dame, it just feels like home to me. Home away from home. It's just like one big family.
“I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
• Talk with Notre Dame fans on The Insider Lounge.
• Subscribe to the Inside ND Sports channel on YouTube.
• Like us on Facebook: Inside ND Sports
• Follow us on Instagram: @insideNDsports